You’ve gawped at Gaudi’s works, peeked in the Picasso Museum & rambled down La Rambla. And now you’re hungry. But perhaps you are hoping for something a little more authentic than the pre-packed, frozen paellas offered in many tourist traps. How about learning to cook paella for yourself, in the home of a local teacher? A paella cooking class in Barcelona Spain is the perfect way to sample authentic Spanish food – and take the recipe home to make it yourself!
Marta’s Paella Cooking Class in Barcelona Spain
I am a big fan of paella, so I have been waiting for a chance to try Marta’s Famous Paella Cooking Class in Barcelona to learn to make it. A paella expert and super host, Marta was once the 3rd best ‘attraction’ in Barcelona according to TripAdvisor.
Until they changed her category to ‘activity’, she explained, grinning about her heady days of TA fame. Despite the challenges with Tripadvisor, most of her students usually find her through her profile on Tripadvisor, as she is consistently ranked as one of the best cooking classes in Barcelona.
She also has a page on Facebook, ‘Marta amb tu cuinem’ where you can contact her for classes. Although she hasn’t been able to host many classes during the pandemic, Marta is a teacher by trade, and her passion still lies in sharing her knowledge and skills with visitors who come to her classes.
You may also like these other cooking classes in Barcelona:
Once everyone had arrived Marta welcomed us all with an introduction about herself, and how she began teaching her paella cooking classes here in her native Barcelona. After living in the US for many years, she left her teaching job in the States and returned back home to Barcelona.
Unsure of what to do next, she started cooking vegetarian meals and offered a few cooking classes in English, then one of her students asked her how to make paella, so she showed them. Her paella cooking classes grew in popularity and she now makes a living teaching people how to make this spectacular dish, as well as continuing her other vegetarian classes, so is a real one-woman cooking school in Barcelona!
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What is Paella?
Paella is a traditional Spanish dish, named after the wide, shallow metal dish that it is cooked in – a paella pan. The original paella was made with chicken and rabbit in Valencia, but now seafood paella is most common throughout Spain. You can now also find vegetarian paellas, chicken and chorizo, and other recipes.
The key ingredient is rice, which is added to the pan with the already cooked meat and vegetables. Fish or chicken stock is added, and a pinch of saffron gives the rice a beautiful yellow colour.
Although paella originates from Valencia it is well worth sampling while you are in Barcelona, as well as the local version called Fideuà which is made from vermicelli-style noodles instead of rice. Marta has perfected her own recipe for Paella over the years and is quick to mention it is simply her preferred recipe, and that everyone adds their own personal touch.
Preparing the Paella Ingredients
We were each given a recipe to make notes on, and Marta introduced the ingredients one by one, explaining her choices, and what changes we could make & why. Then we all lent a hand; chopping peppers, onions, garlic and the rest.
All this took place in the living area of the flat, and we actually cooked outside on the terrace, which I’m sure would be beautiful in spring, although a little chilly in December! Marta had bought a purpose-built gas paella barbecue, whose rings perfectly fit her large 16-person paella pan. But of course, you don’t need one of those to make paella, a normal hob will do just fine.
For a traditional paella though, you really do need the proper paella pan, which cooks the rice evenly, while letting it crisp up a little on the bottom. You can buy paella pans in every large supermarket in Spain, or have a look online.
Cooking and Eating our Paella
And then the cooking began. Everything was done according to the recipe we had been given; frying the prawns, cuttlefish, pork and chicken separately, before starting with the sofrito which would become the base of the paella, then adding in the rice, re-introducing the rest of the ingredients, and the stock.
The actually cooking took a lot less time than I had imagined, which was great news as our stomachs were all rumbling by then! When the rice was just tender we began to decorate our paella, returning the prawns and meat carefully to the pan, and creating patterns with the steamed mussels and strips of roasted pepper.
It looked amazing, so colourful & bright; bursting with flavours and smells. Finally came the moment we had all been waiting for, and Marta served us one by one our plates of steaming paella. Flavourful rice, juicy prawns and scrumptious clams filled each delicious mouthful.
‘How many paellas have you made in your life?’ I asked her. ‘Oh, definitely more than I can count!’ she laughed. Marta chose not to share the paella with us this time, and with paella cooking classes at least once or twice a week I don’t blame her.
But with so much practice and so many happy customers, it’s easy to see how Marta’s paella cooking class in Barcelona really has become famous. I thoroughly enjoyed my class with Marta and left feeling full of food, and inspiration to make paella myself back home. Although cooking on my tiny two ring hob may not be as easy as Marta made it look!
To sign up for Marta’s Famous Paella Class contact her on Facebook to arrange a place in a group class, or to arrange one of Marta’s private paella cooking classes.
Check out other foodie activities in Barcelona:
Have you tried a paella cooking class in Barcelona? It’s delicious!
- Use Skyscanner to find cheap flights to Barcelona. Barcelona El Prat (BCN) is the closest airport to the city.
- Public transport is the cheapest way to get around Barcelona, buy the Hola Barcelona transport ticket for unlimited use of the metro, buses, trams and local trains, including the train from the airport to Barcelona.
Where to Stay in Barcelona
- Use Hostelworld to find the best prices for hostels in Barcelona. Take a look at these recommended hostels:
- For hotels in Barcelona, check out Booking.com or Hotels.com for the best deals. Recommended hotels include:
Barcelona Tours and Activities
- If you're staying in a hostel, check out their tours and activities which are usually free or very cheap - and a great way to meet people!
- I use GetYourGuide to book skip the line entry tickets and tours in Barcelona
- Recommended Tours and Attractions in Barcelona:
Beware of pickpockets
- Although Barcelona is a safe city, pickpockets are a problem here, particularly in popular tourist areas and on the metro. Do not keep your wallet or cash in trouser pockets and keep your hand on your bags at all times.
- When you are eating at a restaurant or café, keep your bag on your lap, not hanging over your chair and avoid leaving your wallet or phone on the table – especially if eating outdoors. It only takes a second for someone to distract you and grab it!
Buy Travel Insurance
- Travel insurance will help if you do have something stolen, and it is more important than ever, with frequent changes in rules and regulations meaning cancellations are more likely. I use SafetyWing, which even includes some cover for costs related to COVID, or check a comparison site like Travel Insurance Master to find the best cover for you.